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review 2018-02-14 22:31
The Golden Mean and Alexandria: Griffin and Sabine
Alexandria: In Which the Extraordinary Correspondence of Griffin & Sabine Unfolds - Nick Bantock
The Golden Mean - Nick Bantock

I'm reviewing these two together because I read them totally out of order. leaving me with little idea of story quality.  I'd read Griffin and Sabine years ago and loved it - the artwork, the interactivity of it, and the way it ended mysteriously.  A couple of years ago I acquired these two books at a sale and put them away until I could get the missing three, and read them in order.

 

Except last night I was in the mood for books with pieces, so I grabbed them to read anyway.

 

Definitely not a series to read out of order.  The Golden Mean was ok - I figured out enough from having read the first book to follow along fine, but Alexandria has new characters that were somehow involved in everything and I was more than a little clueless, although I was left with the feeling that Bantock was reaching for plot by the end.

 

Regardless, the art is still stunning.  I love the postcards and whenever a 'real' letter appeared on the page, the thrill of opening it, extracting the letter and reading it, never got old.

 

I'm still going to search out the rest of the books; if I ever find them, I'll read the whole series again - in order - and see if the plot goes as off the rails as it looks to me now.

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text 2018-02-06 19:43
Thought provoking story
My Name Is Venus Black: A Novel - Heather Lloyd

My Name Is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd is a thought provoking story of how a young girl commits a horrible crime and yet in so many ways is innocent.  The story is told from two points of view. First and foremost Venus and then secondary by Tessa. At the heart, the story is about family, love and forgiveness.

 

Venus Black is just thirteen when she is convicted of killing her stepfather. She escapes being tried as an adult – barely. She is sent to a juvenile correction facility to serve her six year sentence. Her brother Leo, a high functioning, autistic child, is kidnapped just days after the crime. He is never found. Once Venus serves her time and is released, she wants two things. First, to start over with a new identity. Second, to find her brother.

Unbeknownst to Venus, a young girl, Tessa, and her father have found and taken in Leo. They have raised him as their own. They have nurtured Leo and he has come to love them as much as they love him. You can imagine what happens when the two worlds collide.   

 

The author did a fabulous job with the character of Venus. There was a lot of depth to her and I empathized with her despite the terrible crime she committed. I also liked Tessa. She was an outstanding supporting character and I found her to be rather profound for her age. No doubt this is what the author intended. Another thing I liked about the story, you do not know exactly why Venus killed her stepfather until the end and the suspense was one of the things that made me want to keep turning the page, even after bedtime.  

 

The pace of the plot could not have been better. It never felt rushed at all. The only qualm I had was with the ending. It came together in this nice, neat, little package and that just does not happen in real life. On the flip side, I get that readers want a story that is all tidy in the end. Regardless, the story was well executed and I look forward to more from this author.

 

The story brings up a lot of difficult issues. For example, how does the justice system handle crimes committed by children? Where does the system fail in helping children like Venus? What does it mean to forgive someone or yourself?  These are just a few of the questions that come to mind. Because of this, My Name Is Venus Black would make an excellent book club pick.

 

I received an ARC, from the publisher, via Library Thing’s early reviewer program. Thank you!

 

For more of my reviews, and author interviews, see my book blog at www.thespineview.com.

Source: www.thespineview.com/genre/fiction/my-name-is-venus-black-by-heather-lloyd
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review 2018-02-06 06:10
Geography for Dummies by Charles Heatwole
Geography for Dummies. - Charles Heatwole

TITLE:  Geography for Dummies

 

AUTHOR:  Charles Heatwole

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2002

 

FORMAT:  Paperback

 

ISBN-13:  9780764516221

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Geography for Dummies provides a brief overview of the geography you should have learned in middle-school.  Topics covered in the book include Mapwork; Physical Geography  (e.g. volcanoes, earthquakes, climate, etc); Population Geography (movement and distribution of people); and Economic Geography (resources, economic activities, urban geography, environmental issues, etc).  The book also provides many diagrams and lists of organizations for geographic information (useless unless you live in the USA), geographical occupations, geographical websites, and a chapter on oddball topics like the Bermuda Triangle or how "Democratic Republics" are usually anything but democratic.

This book provides a basic, superficial outline of the listed topics, using simple words, a chatty writing style and many examples (most of them from the USA) - I suppose this is what one should expect from a book subtitled "for Dummies".  Personally I found the chattiness rather long-winded and the simplistic explanations annoying (I wanted more information!).

In short, an informative, albeit basic, book if you know nothing about geography, rather superficial if you want something more detailed.

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review 2018-02-02 05:46
The Accidental Scientist by Graeme Donald
The Accidental Scientist: The Role of Chance and Luck in Scientific Discovery - Graeme Donald

TITLE:   The Accidental Scientist: The Role of Chance and Luck in Scientific Discovery

 

AUTHOR:  Graeme Donald

 

DATE PUBLISHED:  2014

 

FORMAT:  Hardback

 

ISBN-13: 9781782430155

 

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This is a rather short, but interesting, book that takes a look at the history behind various scientific discoveries and inventions.  All of the topics were chosen because chance or luck were involved in their discovery/invention.  Each chapter is a separate unit that covers a particular topic, such as botox, explosive cellulose, synthetic dyes, penicillin, post-it notes, lobotomies, the cellphone, LSD etc.  This book isn't in-depth science or history but is entertaining and informative without being boring.  The writing style is particularly conversational and witty.

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review 2018-02-02 03:07
Bella Tuscany
Bella Tuscany - Frances Mayes

Very much more of the same from Under the Tuscan Sun but with more travel and more poetry and more philosophical musings.  

 

I really just wanted to hear about the house and their village, so I found myself skimming whenever the chapters covered their travels.  I usually love the travel bits, but a combination of my mood and her tendency to write about their trips within Italy the way academic historians write about battles made it all feel too tedious.  But I loved hearing about the house, the restoration, re-building the gardens, and harvesting the olives.  That took up about half the book, so I went with a down the middle rating of three stars.

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